Focus Electrics West Bend Slow Cooker Review

The West Bend crockpot is an oval-shaped basic slow cooker that offers reliable performance and a no-nonsense design.

Overview

Looking for a basic, no-frills manual slow cooker to help you get started on eating clean? Say hello to the West Bend slow cooker, a 5-quart portable crockpot with adjustable manual controls and portable design.

Don't let the basic design fool you, this slow cooker is able to thaw, brown, and reheat entire meals apart from slow cooking your favorite Paleo dishes. If you've got no time for cooking or you're always busy, you'll find that the West Bend slow cooker makes a fantastic companion in the kitchen, enabling you to cook homemade meals with less effort.

What is the West Bend Slow Cooker?

The West Bend slow cooker is a 5-quart capacity oblong crockpot that features a flat cooking base and a nonstick pot with glass lid. This slow cooker is made by Focus Electrics, a popular brand of budget slow cookers. The West Bend slow cooker features adjustable controls you can regulate manually. The design is plain and basic. The cooking base comes with sizable stay-cool handles so you don't burn your fingers as you cook.

What makes the West Bend slow cooker different from other crockpots is the versatile cooking base and the pot. Now, most slow cookers come with a base that pretty much does all the slow cooking for you but the West Bend slow cooker's cooking base transform into a griddle. The cooking base cum griddle can be used to brown meats, sauté veggies, or reheat entire dishes. The removable cooking pot, on the other hand, can be used to cook on stovetop or as a serving dish. On top of all that, the removable parts of the West Bend are easy to clean.

Features

Controls

The West Bend slow cooker features an adjustable plastic dial that lets you set your desired cooking temperature and time. The knob itself is made in sturdy plastic and the cooking temperature features four heat settings: 1, 2, 3, and 4. I do wish the knob is larger so it's easier to adjust as you cook but the dial is easy to use.

Cooking Modes

Newer slow cookers come with two cooking modes – high and low – but the West Bend slow cooker features four different heating temperature, which could be confusing for some users. Those who are no stranger to Focus Electronics' crockpots won't have any problem using the West Bend. The lowest setting is best for keeping the food warm while setting 2 to 3 are best for slow cooking meats. The highest setting is ideal if you're pressed for time or you just want to cut the cooking time in half.

Lid

The West Bend slow cooker features a large, rectangular clear lid made from tempered glass. The lid is easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. The fit between the lid and the crock pot is nice and tight so spills and leaks won't be a problem. The lid actually latches onto the pot to seal the heat in, allowing you to cook your favorite meals in the most ideal temperatures.

Since the lid is clear, you can keep an eye on the doneness of the dish at a glance. The crockpot doesn't light up when the food is done so the clear glass is a helpful feature.

Dimension and Capacity

The West Bend slow cooker is about 7.2 x 12.8 x 8.8 inches in size and weighs approximately 5.2 pounds so it's quite lightweight. This crockpot has a capacity of 5 quart but it can accommodate a little less than advertised. The size is modest so it's not the best choice if you have friends over and you need to cook a large batch of dishes but it's perfect if you're cooking for two.

Accessories

This product does not come with additional accessories save for the user's manual. For information about the warranty, you'll have to call the Focus Electrics customer service hotline.

PROS

  • Oblong crockpot with adjustable manual controls
  • Versatile heating base, can be used on stovetop and in the oven for browning or searing
  • Freezer safe and dishwasher safe components
  • Dependable performance, sturdy construction

CONS

  • Heating base is prone to peeling
  • Actual capacity is smaller
  • No OFF button
  • No keep warm setting
  • Glass lid isn't as tight fitting

Focus Electrics West Bend Slow Cooker Detailed Review


Built Quality and Design:

The West Bend slow cooker comes in a plain design but it's surprisingly versatile. That said, the heating base doesn't go all the way to the sides so the heat is isolated to the bottom of the pot. It features a dishwasher-safe pot with nonstick coating. The heating base is also coated with nonstick coating and since it converts into a griddle, food does not stick when you're frying. However, the base isn't dishwasher safe so you have to wipe the cooking surface off with a damp towel to remove grease and food bits. Since the pot is freezer safe, you can use it to store your leftovers too.

The West Bend slow cooker's lid is pretty generic but it does a good job of keeping spills at a minimum. It does feel like the lid is lighter and flimsier than some of the crockpot lids I've used so it's not made for heavy duty use. The size of the crockpot is modest but it's compact enough that you can take the West Bend with you on a family picnic.

Ease of Use:

The West Bend slow cooker is user-friendly as long as you are used to the numerical cooking settings. The temperature setting isn't designed like the traditional high and low but this adds to the versatility of the West Bend. Operation is a straightforward affair but the wider range of cooking setting lets you slow cook a variety of meats, fish, and poultry. The griddle is small so it can't accommodate larger cuts of meat but it gets the job done.

Reliability:

The West Bend slow cooker worked beautifully and it is one reliable slow cooker. It's a low maintenance crockpot and I'm sure you'll have fun whipping up tasty dishes you can share with your family. The only caveat I see is the lack of OFF button. To power off, you have to unplug the slow cooker and I feel that some users may not be comfortable at the idea of leaving the slow cooker turned on for hours at a time.

Price:

This product retails at $39.99. For a manual crockpot this size, there are more affordable slow cookers but the heating base does convert into a griddle, a unique feature that makes up for the almost 40 bucks price tag.

How Does it Compare?

Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker

The Set n' Forget slow cooker is a great alternative to the West Bend slow cooker however, it is more expensive than the latter and it comes with programmable controls. In addition, the Set n' Forget is a larger crockpot with 6 quart capacity so it's best for serving family sized dishes. The West Bend is smaller so it is suitable for solo dieters, couples or small families.

Proctor-Silex Slow Cooker

Just like the West Bend slow cooker, the Proctor-Silex crockpot is a budget slow cooker with basic settings and portable design. However, the capacity of the Proctor-Silex slow cooker is just 4 quarts so it's not the best choice if you're making food for sharing. At 5 quart capacity, the West Bend slow cooker allows you to cook more of your favorite dishes.

Crock-Pot Cook n' Carry Manual Portable Slow Cooker

The Crock-Pot Cook n' Carry portable slow cooker offers a larger cooking capacity, allowing you to whip up dishes for six to seven people. It's not the best choice if you're a solo dieter or if you don't want to deal with lots of leftovers. Also, the Cook n' Carry slow cooker runs a little too hot so you have to keep an eye on your food as it cooks.

Should I buy the Focus Electrics West Bend Slow Cooker?

Despite its modest cooking capacity and basic design, the West Bend slow cooker by Focus Electronics is surprisingly versatile. It offers different ways of preparing your favorite dishes, the components are dishwasher-safe and the controls are easy to use. The West Bend slow cooker is also affordable so it will appeal to the budget-conscious.

As far as design goes, there is room for improvement. I wish there was an OFF button and that the slow cooker automatically stops cooking once the dish is done instead of pulling the plug manually every time cooking time has been completed. The nonstick coating is prone to bubbling or peeling but there's a care instruction on the user manual to prevent this from happening.

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